Showing posts with label lunch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lunch. Show all posts


AWESOME DEAL: Pay What You Wish at Just Salad Today

Wallet feeling kind of light? (Or even kind of heavy?) Just Salad, a fast casual restaurant concept serving healthy food--including, yes, salad--at 315 Park Ave South is allowing customers to pay what they wish for any salad or wrap at both lunch (12-1:30pm) and dinner (6-7:30pm) today 4/9.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Food Bank For NYC. Limit 1 wrap or salad (valued up to $10) per person and in-store only.


Meet the Indian "Chipotle" Now Open in the Theater District

I'll be the first to admit that having Indian food for lunch often sounds unappealing simply because it's hard to return to my desk and work after a rich, filling, often spicy meal served from an all-you-can-eat buffet. Ironic because I LOVE Indian food. So when I heard about the new fast casual Indian restaurant Chutney Kitchen, which opened up shop in Hell's Kitchen in February, I couldn't wait to try it.

Chutney Kitchen is the brainchild of former finance 9-5'er Silu Sao and her friend since grade school, Pankaj Amin. One morning Sao's 8-year-old daughter asked her why she was working in finance when all she loved was to cook. That week she quit her hedge fund job and enrolled in culinary school. After 2 years of creating recipes reflecting the fresh, high-quality Indian food she likes to eat at home, Sao opened the restaurant with Amin with the goal of providing a light alternative to this cuisine especially geared toward those with special dietary needs like vegetarians and those who eat gluten-free.

The way it works is very much like Chipotle. You choose a base--roti wrap (like a burrito), naan tacos, salad greens, rice bowl, or chaat bowl (garbanzo beans and potatoes)--and then a fill:
  • Charbroiled chicken marinated in yogurt and spices ($8.95)
  • Pulled pork simmered with tangy spices ($8.95)
  • Shredded steak marinated in ginger, garlic and chilies ($9.95)
  • Pan-seared potatoes seared with tumeric, cumin and onions ($7.95)
  • Farmer's cheese (Paneer) sauteed with a 5-spice blend ($8.95)
  • Lentils (Daal) stewed with onions and spices ($7.95)

You can then choose flavors including warm sauces (coconut cashew, tikka, or vindaloo), cold chutneys (date, yogurt, cilantro, or mirchi), and salad dressings (lemon cumin and spicy mango).

If you can't make up your mind (or are just overwhelmed by choices), Chutney Kitchen has some suggestions including the Viva Las Vegas (naan tacos with pulled pork, vindaloo, carrots & cabbage, pickled onions and yogurt and mirchi chutneys) and the Lucy Goosey (Chaat bowl with cucumber and tomatoes, chickpea crunch, and date, yogurt and cilantro chutneys).

I opted for the shredded steak chaat bowl with tikka sauce, carrots & cabbage, corn, chickpea crunch, and yogurt chutney washed down with an Aranciata San Pellegrino. The bowl was enough food for 2 meals for me, which I really appreciated. It was flavorful, yet slightly spicier than I expected. If you don't like spicy, make sure to let the person preparing your food know and they'll steer you clear of anything you won't like.

Other intriguing items on the menu include masala fries ($2.50), hot street chai ($3.50), and mango smoothies ($3.50). The only thing missing was dessert--I would love to see Sao's take on gulab jamun!

Full disclosure: I received a free meal from Chutney Kitchen but the opinions presented here are 100% my own.


You Deserve More than a Boring Lunch

I don't know about you, but I get in the habit of being too busy at work to grab more than a boring salad or sandwich from the deli downstairs. Now that the weather is starting to get a bit (*fingers crossed*) nicer, I'm more inclined to want to walk more than 15 steps from my office building. So when the trusty lunch chain Pret A Manger contacted me to sample their new hot menu items (all under 500 calories), I was all in!

My go-tos at Pret have always been the egg salad and arugula sandwich and the almond croissants, and I've always loved their "Made today, gone today" motto--donating all their leftovers to City Harvest daily.

But on my last visit, I tried one of the new Hot Pots--Korean BBQ Pulled Pork to be exact, with only 460 calories. I loved it! It is made with antibiotic-free pork simmered in a sweet & savory sauce with red peppers, honey, ginger, garlic, and cilantro on a bed of red rice and quinoa. It comes with a fresh-made roll and I washed it all down with Pret's strawberry lemonade. Refreshing!

On another visit, I went with the new Spinach and Tomato Mac 'n Cheese and brought it back to my desk. Who ever heard of mac 'n cheese for only 420 calories!? And it was super creamy. I didn't feel like I was missing out at all. FYI, this item is fully vegetarian, but they also have a version with crispy bacon with only 470 calories. On this visit, I also tried Pret's blood orange seltzer.

So if you've never been to Pret, or just haven't been in a while (they're especially easy to find around Midtown), it's high time to check them out again and try one of the new menu items. You're right on track to never have a boring lunch again!

Editor's Note: Pret provided me with complimentary food for the purposes of writing this post but all opinions are my own.


Between the Bread: A New Favorite Midtown Lunch Spot

Last week I was invited with my coworker Stephanie to try the Midtown lunch hotspot and catering company Between the Bread. We arrived to a bustling storefront of hungry workers on their lunch breaks hankering for a plateful of healthy, fresh, local fare.

On the menu were a wide array of sandwiches ($7.95-$8.95), salads ($2.95-$4.50), soups ($3.50-$5) and entree portions of chicken, shrimp, or fish, each served with 2 sides ($9.95-$13.95). Menu items change on a daily basis so you'll never get bored eating here.

Sandwich selection
Entrees of the day

I tried the herb salmon with Parmesan roasted cauliflower and grilled veggies while Stephanie had the grilled chicken with fennel green bean and potato salad and tomato salad. First off, the portions were GINORMOUS. My plate was definitely enough for two meals, which makes it a great value. Also, everything was super delicious, yet healthy. I could have eaten a plateful of that cauliflower alone and I really liked the wide array of grilled vegetables, including beets and sweet potato on top of squash and bell peppers.

There really isn't a place to eat inside the restaurant, but we took our food down the street to an outdoor pavillion (yay almost Spring!) and enjoyed our lunch al fresco. I definitely want to come back to try Between the Bread's other entrees and their baked goods. Yum!

Between the Bread on Urbanspoon


Screw the Cold! Order Delivery and Get Free Stuff!

I have to admit, I don't order food for delivery that often. My philosophy is if I'm going to spend money on food from a restaurant, I'd rather make a night of it and enjoy the ambiance. However, on frigid days like today (and on lazy, especially rainy days) I make an exception.

So what did I want for lunch, I thought to myself at about 10:45 this morning when my stomach began to rumble. I could be like everyone else and use Seamless, but instead I opted to go with, and I'll tell you why. The basic concept is the same--login, pick a cuisine, add your items to your cart, list any special instructions, hand over your credit card info and the rights to your soul, and soon food will be delivered right to you without you ever having to interact with a human being (with the exception of the delivery person of course). However, is a smaller operation compared with Seamless and hence offers more perks to try and lure new customers.

For example, instead of choosing a cuisine first, I entered my office address and opted to sort the available delivery choices by discount. Low and behold there were 6 different restaurants that offered a 25% off deal for your first order. Score! I decided to order from Marrakesh because I was in the mood for hummus and I could get a shish kebab combo platter for $12.95 (includes a garden salad or rice, 2 pieces of pita, and 2 vegetarian sides including hummus, grape leaves, falafel, etc.).

Nothing surprising so far, BUT not only did I get my food and my 25% off discount, but I also received 316 loyalty points and one stamp on my loyalty card. Basically, the points can be redeemed for anything from a $5 charity donation (10,000 points) to a $50 iTunes card (125,000 points) to an 11 inch Macbook Air (1,380,000 - you have to order A LOT of delivery for this guy but I guess it's incentive to take the office's lunch orders!). In addition, you get one "punch" for every order and a $5 credit for each 10 orders no matter how much you spend.

There are other ways of earning points as well. You get 1,000 just for signing up, plus 1,000 more for each friend you invite to So what are you waiting for? Start making your delivery dinner plans for the rest of this awful freaking cold week!


The Namesake of Falafel

One thing any New Yorker can tell you is that there is NO shortage of falafel options in this city. Sometimes I look around and think I'm in Tel Aviv or something. From street carts, to hole-in-the-wall joints, chains to fancy $10 pita sandwiches, how's a girl to choose? While I'm all for the street cart (as long as you don't see any little critters crawling on it), I was recently invited to Chickpea to see what they are all about.

Chickpea in the CitiCorp Building is PACKED at lunch time

A NYC mini-chain, Chickpea has 7 locations throughout Manhattan with an 8th opening soon on the Upper East Side and potentially a site in Brooklyn in the future. Named for the main ingredient in both falafel and hummus, Chickpea was born from the concept that food should be healthy, fresh and innovative. Sure you can get your standard falafel and hummus on a pita, but if you're in the mood for spinach broccoli falafel with jalapeno garlic hummus on a whole wheat pita, they can hook you up too. Another thing that makes them different is that all their falafel is baked, not fried like it usually is. The salad bar is also one of my favorite parts because you can load up your pita or platter with fresh veggies and tahini.

Falafel choices
Hummus choices

In addition to falafel, Chickpea offers meat options like chicken schwarma, lamb kebab, grillled steak and the inventive schwafel (the best of both worlds!).

Chickpea workers
For my lunch, I ordered a schwafel sandwich on whole wheat pita with red pepper hummus. It came in this little cute box that seems like it would make eating falafel on the run an easier task.

When I took it out of the box, it looked like a much more manageable sandwich than some other's I've eaten before. The pita is cooked in a way that makes it more like a taco than a blorb of a meal (I don't know if blorb is a word, but you know exactly what I mean).

One thing I was concerned with was the fact that the falafel was baked, and I thought that might make it really dry. However, I was wrong. The entire sandwich was moist (and not in a soggy pita kind of way) and tasty. The salad that came with it was constantly surprising me with new veggies and the red pepper hummus gave a nice flavor kick.

Moist falafel
The sandwich was the perfect size for a lunchtime meal, not too filling, but the guys at chickpea threw in a piece of their homemade honeycake which I saved for later. I don't usually buy things like honeycake, or any dessert for that matter, with lunch. However, if you find yourself at Chickpea, do yourself a favor and ORDER THE HONEYCAKE!

I'll admit it doesn't look that impressive all wrapped in cellophane, but this moist concoction was jam-packed with so much honey, yet it wasn't sticky. The coconut on top played to another one of my favorite flavors and the texture was cakey and bready at the same time. I guess what I'm saying is Chickpea's honey cake is like the love child of corn bread and tres leches cake, and at only $3.25 it's a steal.

Honey cake close up shot
What I once though was just a standard lunch option is now definitely in my top 10.  Not only was the food tasty, healthy, and wholesome, but the philosophy behind the company and the workers really struck a chord with me. If you have a Chickpea near you, I would highly recommend a schwafel and a honey cake for your next lunch, and if you don't have one near you, I would highly recommend finding one for dinner.
Chickpea Midtown on Urbanspoon


FINALLY! Good Mexican in Manhattan

Being from Los Angeles, I have been searching high and low in NYC for something to even come close to replicating the often-craved, authentic Mexican food I can find readily available at home. There's the Mexican take-out joints run by Chinese people, and they have decent, cheap food, but the meat always seems like it could double in a Mongolian beef dish as well. Chipotle makes a decent burrito, but come on, burritos are more American than apple pie at this point. 

So when the oh-so-reliable blog Midtown Lunch alerted me to a new Mexican food purveyor near my office, I had to check it out. Taqueria Nixtamalito excited me because the name alone wasn't dumbed down to something a typical American office worker could say easily (not that it didn't take everyone a while to learn the correct pronunciation of Chipotle, but that's a different story). The "permanent cart," I'll call it, is an offshoot of Tortilleria Nixtamal in Corona, Queens. They've been dishing out fresh made tortillas, tamales and enchiladas (and wholesaling to NYC staples like Mexicue, Dos Toros Tacos and Rosa Mexicano) and decided to take their show to the big leagues by opening in a space just south of the Municipal Building (1 Centre Street).

When I arrived at 12:15 on a beautiful Tuesday, the line was about five people deep. I read that it can get much longer so I decided to take lunch on the earlier side. For such a small place, I was happy to see such a large menu. Tamales are one of my favorite foods if they're made right, and Taqueria Nixtamalito offered several varieties including chicken mole, chipotle with pork and chicken, and verde with pork all $3.50. The taco menu was also extensive and included chicken ($2.50), pork ($2.50), barbacoa ($2.75), carnitas ($2.50), shrimp ($3.00) and fish ($3.00). Rounding out the menu were chicken mole enchiladas, tortas, guacamole and salads. They also sell the Mexican soda Jarritos!

Although I was tempted by the chicken mole enchiladas, I couldn't pass up what I thought would hopefully be the most amazing (read = only) tamale I've had in years. I ordered the shrimp taco and chicken mole tamale. The cashier asked me if I'd like salsa and I said yes please. Then he made my day even more and asked if I'd like green or red. Salsa verde (green salsa) is amazing with tamales! 

Shrimp Taco
Chicken Mole Tamale 
Tamale Post-Salsa Verde
Ay carumba was I happy! With only three tables next to the actual stand, I took my food across the street to city hall park to eat in the shade and people watch. However, I would totally advocate for finding a table to eat this meal at. After carefully covering my lap in a napkin layered with the plastic bag layered with another napkin, I dug in. The shrimp taco came with mango, cucumber, a tangy mayo-based sauce and of course chunks of succulent shrimp. The handmade tortilla made all the difference as well.

I covered my tamale in the smoky salsa verde and enjoyed the mix of flavors with the mole. There were large pieces of shredded chicken that I enjoyed until I was scraping the extra off of the corn husk. For $6.50, this was a pretty filling lunch. I definitely could not eat two whole tamales without feeling super full. Next time I'm ordering the enchiladas. Who's with me?

The cashier said that they will soon be launching a system where customers can order online, but until then... Viva Taqueria Nixtamalito!

Taqueria Nixtamalito on Urbanspoon